It's now Thursday, and I'm just able to get to the most recent Monday Mouthful challenge, Cassoulet. I was super excited to try this out when ChefE chose it, but the fates were conspiring against me. I had houseguests for ten days, and at first I thought it would be perfect for guests...until I realized that my sister-in-law doesn't like legumes. On Sunday night, I was in a little panic, and finally decided to make a small batch and feed her something else. But then Monday was a holiday here, which means everything is closed. Since then, I just haven't had time to make this. Until today.
I'm so glad I did! I wasn't sure how I'd make it. My husband has been really busy at work, and that means I'm the main caregiver during the day for my three-year-old daughter, which in turn means that I'm not at liberty to make anything that takes a lot of hands-on time. Couple that with the fact that we've eaten a ton of poultry in the last week and a half because the other houseguest didn't eat red meat, and so I wasn't so excited about another dish with poultry.
I consulted marmiton.org, a French recipe site, to see what it had to offer in the ways of cassoulet, and combined several recipes for what you find below. I'm claiming it as mine. I settled for two types of sausages common in France: the chipolata and the saucisson à l'ail (smoked garlic sausage). If you're not in France, both can be subsituted with your favorite smoked and unsmoked sausages. Also, feel free to throw in some duck (which is common in cassoulet) or even some chicken. Mutton is also an option.
This dish is warming and flavorful, and is easily adapted to what you have on hand. It will definitely make my winter-time repertoire!
A little less than 1/2 pound of bacon, cut into matchsticks
1 pound of tomatoes, or 1 14.5 oz can tomato puree
2 small leeks, cut in half and sliced
2 carrots, diced
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 large cans white beans, drained and rinsed
1 bouquet garni
4 chipolata sausages (or another type of uncooked sausage)
1 smoked garlic sausage (or other type of smoked sausage), sliced
Pepper to taste
In a large heavy pot, cook the bacon in a tiny bit of olive oil until crispy and remove from the pot. While the bacon is cooking, boil water in a small pot. Cut an "X" at the bottom of each tomato and place in the boiling water for one minute. Remove and plunge into cold water. When cool enough to handle, remove the skins, cut into quarters and puree in a food processor or blender. Set aside.
When the bacon is done and removed, add the vegetables and cook for a few minutes until the onion is tender, stirring occasionally. Add a little oil if it seems dry. Add the reserved bacon, tomato puree, beans, bouquet garni and sausages. Add enough water to almost cover the mixture. Add some pepper and mix.
Cook on low heat for two hours. If it doesn't seem thick enough for you after about 1 1/2 hours, uncover and simmer until thickened. Serve immediately with crusty bread.